Feeling confident in RTW decisions for your patients and helping your patients feel confident, should be the norm. This is not difficult to achieve, sometimes, it just requires a little job simulation.
Meet Paul - Paul was a WC patient who gained the self-assurance needed to get back to work safely. After a knee surgery, Paul had some balance issues. His therapy helped strengthen his knee and increase his weight bearing. However, he continued to express concerns to his therapist that he wouldn’t be able to do his job. He was afraid when he got up on the ladder, he wouldn’t be able to maneuver the specialized tools required. When it came time for a RTW screen as part of his discharge, it revealed that Paul could climb a ladder while maintaining three points of contact. This might have been enough for a doctor to send him back to work, but because of Paul’s ongoing concerns the therapist asked for more specific details on Paul’s job tasks. There was an awkward position that Paul had to maintain on several occasions throughout his work day. Paul was required to climb to the second rung of a ladder, in which rungs were 24 inches apart. From there he had to put one leg up 36 inches onto a platform to stabilize himself while maneuvering a tool. This put him with two points of contact on the ladder while one point of contact was in an unusual position.
Job Specific Testing - This unusual position was incorporated into the job specific RTW test which gave the physician objective data indicating that Paul needed additional treatment before he could safely return to this job. Paul then completed a two week “ramp-in” program in which he did specific exercises to strengthen and improve balance. Two weeks later, Paul passed the repeat of the RTW screen felt comfortable in the posture and had confidence to perform his job duties.
Communication - The physical therapist spoke with the physician and explained the RTW screen results. She shared how and why the test was made so job specific and her recommendations for the two-week ramp-in program. This five-minute call to the physician made it easy for the physician to authorize the additional treatment and feel confident in this decision. He was happy to see the improvement from the two-week ramp-in program and the confidence in Paul. As a bonus to the physical therapy clinic, this exchange netted them additional patient referrals from this physician.
Be confident - Sometimes it is all about job simulation. An off the shelf RTW test would have had Paul on the job too soon. He knew he could climb a ladder, but his job was more than just a ladder climb. The job specific testing ad job specific training, gave Paul the ability and confidence to go back to work.
The modified RTW screen and the five-minute call to the physician were not difficult for the PT to include in her treatment, but it brought big rewards.
If you are interested in seeing how job specific testing can improve your relationships with patients and physicians, contact ErgoScience to schedule a meeting.